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The History of Tattoos

Author: Bob Matheson

Tattoos are a hot topic these days. People get tattoos for a lot of reasons. Millions of designs have been applied and continue to be created. But tattoos are not a new craze. The history of tattoos is a novel, not a short story, and they've been here for ages.

Oetzi The Iceman

No one can truly assert when the history of tattoos all started. The most ancient known tattoo was discovered in 1991. It was found on a mummy called Oetzi, an Iceman dated to be at least 5300 years old. His tattoos are comprised of horizontal and vertical lines. There is a certain amount of controversy as to why the tattoos are there.

Upon discovery of the remains, researchers have been able to do little but presume that this most primitive type of tattoo was for the purpose of fending off evil spirits, or that it may well have been some type of rite-of-passage.

The most prevalent supposition is that the tattoos were designed for healing purposes. Oetzi's fifty-seven tattoos are placed over a number of joints on the body. The idea is that the tattoos were created while a type of acupuncture was practiced to relieve painful joints. Today, the very same locations are used for acupuncture. Other theories vary from social position and ritual markings to ethnic inscription or simple preference.

Combined on his backbone and at the back of one knee and on one ankle, the Ice Man had roughly fifty-seven tattoos. Even though it's impossible to do more than speculate as to the actual reason for them, it undoubtedly demonstrates that tattoos aren't exclusive to the contemporary era.

Since the Ice Man was the oldest mummified human remains found in Europe, tattoo fans of the modern era have history on their side-- there's nothing "contemporary" about the history of tattoos.

Ancient Egypt

The Egyptians are one of the most acknowledged ancient societies for tattoos. Dating back to 2100 BC, discovered mummies have been shown to be adorned in various tattoos. Women displayed tattoo artwork that were restricted to females only. These designs were customarily a sequence of lines and dots around the body. Tattoos among the Egyptians are thought to have been types of ritual markings.

Oriental Tattoos

In Japan, tattoos had been first used on clay statues. These human shaped figures were representative of a deceased individual and were found in the tombs of the individual they resembled. The tattoos were embossed or painted on the faces of the figures. It is thought that these designs have religious or mystical significance. The figures have been found in burying places that have been dated to 3,000 BC.

Japan's earliest recognized tattoo is from 297 AD and has been demonstrated to be for decorative purposes only. Tattoo artists were called the "Horis" in Japan. The Horis were acknowledged as masters and ultimately created the full body suit tattoo.

Although Oriental symbols are extremely popular for tattoos in America, it is not widely recognized that both the Japanese and Chinese cultures have maintained a strong opposition to the practice of tattooing throughout history. With both societal and religious viewpoints agreeing that tattooing is a ritual that shouldn't be practiced, it's nevertheless deemed to be a way of contaminating one's body. For the ancient Chinese, tattooing was employed as a penalty for criminal activity, placing such obvious marks on a person to forever brand that person as being a law breaker.

Tattoos have been found in times past throughout the world. They have been determined to be a statement of a variety of things such as social standing, religious conviction and frequently merely for decoration. Found on men and women alike, tattoos are discovered in every shape, size and color pattern that you can imagine. Whether they have been demonstrated to be something that was once held sacred or they are for ornamentation only, tattoos have been around for ages and will continue to be around for ages to come.

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